I’ll be honest, I’ve never fully embraced the Nintendo’s Switch ability to play games on the go. Sure, it’s a useful device during a lengthy plane ride or weekend visit with the in-laws, but I can safely say that I keep my console docked for a vast majority of my gaming sessions. One of the reasons has to do with screen size, but to be honest, if I’m going to binge Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey for a few hours, I might as well use a Pro Controller without needing to worry about the Switch’s battery life.
In the past few months, however, one genre of game has been changing my mind — roguelikes. Between Cadence of Hyrule, Binding of Isaac, Downwell, and Moonlighter, I’m starting to realize that the frequent deaths and shorter gameplay loops are perfect for quick, on-the-go Switch play sessions. As an avid fan of the twin-stick shooter, it will probably come as no surprise that Enter The Gungeon has found a spot in my current rotation of games.
I last played Dodge Roll’s debut title back in 2016 (man, time sure does fly), and I was thrown off balance when I booted up the Switch version for the first time. The development team has kept busy pumping out updates brimming with content (new guns, rooms, enemies, and weapon combo effects, known as Synergies), though a quick Google search informed me that their plans for paid DLC have been abandoned in favor of working on a brand new title. To be honest, there’s so much to tinker around with, I imagine only the most hardcore of fans will be put off by this recent development.
As you’d expect, Enter The Gungeon‘s fast and tight action has translated well to the Nintendo Switch, though there’s nothing to suggest it wouldn’t. I mostly stuck with the game’s single-player, and while two Joy-Con work well enough in handheld mode, things really shine when using the Pro Controller. There’s the option to tackle the game in co-op (fair warning, it’s not unlocked right away), though I don’t recommend attempting this with single Joy-Con. You’ll have to use tilt controls to aim, which never feels as fluid or precise as you’d want it to. Thankfully, Dodge Roll saw fit to include the ability to fully remap the game’s controls, so it won’t take long to find a setup which suits your preferences.
While it seems to have been improved by a few updates and patches, it’s worth noting that Enter The Gungeon does occasionally suffer from slowdown, especially when the bullets start flying and the screen fills up with effects and the like. From my experience, it doesn’t happen all that often, and after digging through some forum posts, it seems Dodge Roll has improved things over time. Still, performance problems did rear their head every now and then, but with three different graphics modes to choose from, you’ll have the option to prioritize fluidity, fidelity, or a mix of both.
Some of you might be wondering about the timeliness of this particular review — after all, Enter The Gungeon came out on the Nintendo Switch back in late 2017. However, it’s having another moment in the spotlight thanks to a physical edition, courtesy of a partnership with Nighthawk Interactive. Those who prefer their indie games on a cartridge will be pleased — the core game and included DLC packs don’t require any updates or downloads. In addition, the physical edition includes an exclusive shotgun skin, a download code for the soundtrack (sorry CD lovers), a set of stickers, and a little papercraft cartoon bullet. With the digital version costing $15 and this retail copy going for $30, the extra pack-ins justify the increased cost, a far cry from the Resident Evil debacle.
Whether you prefer digital downloads or physical copies, Enter The Gungeon is a must-own for roguelike fans. Years after its initial release, Dodge Roll has continued to breathe life into it, and if you haven’t given it a go for some time, you’ll be in for a real surprise, much like I was. I’m not entirely sold on the co-op, but just about everything else is top-notch, save for the occasional hitch and framerate drop.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A retail copy was provided by Nighthawk Interactive.
Enter The Gungeon holds up quite well on the Nintendo Switch, and diehard fans of physical editions will be content with what's on offer here.